Jan. 14, 2019– Mary Greeley News – Yellowstone’s Steamboat geyser—the tallest active geyser in the world—had a record-breaking year in 2018. It experienced more water eruptions over the calendar year than any other since records began.
A statement from the Yellowstone Volcano Observatory (YVO), which is part of the USGS Volcano Hazards Program, said that throughout 2018, the Steamboat geyser produced 32 eruptions. This, it said, breaks the record of 29, set in 1964.
The geyser was on a par with the 1964 record until December, when there were three eruptions on the 8th, 17th, and 25th. The YVO noted that the geyser was becoming more active in May 2018, saying it appeared to have “entered a phase of more frequent water eruptions, much like it did in the 1960s and early 1980s.”
It continued: “Although these eruptions do not have any implications for future volcanic activity at Yellowstone—after all, geysers are supposed to erupt, and most are erratic, like Steamboat—they are nonetheless spectacular.”
Jamie Farrell, from the Department of Geology & Geophysics at the University of Utah, is involved in monitoring seismic activity at Yellowstone. He told Newsweek the activity at Steamboat generally ebbs and flows: “Hydrothermal systems are very dynamic and things change all the time,” he said. “This isn’t the first time Steamboat has a period of high eruption activity. That doesn’t mean something isn’t driving it. I’m sure there is a reason for this increased activity but I’m not sure anyone really knows what that is at the moment.”
The most active month for Steamboat was September, when there were five eruptions in just one month.
The Steamboat geyser is part of the Norris Geyser Basin. It can produce water eruptions that reach 300 feet into the sky. According to the National Park Service, large eruptions at Steamboat are “unforgettable,” with water surging from two vents. “Curtains of water fall to the slope above the geyser and collect in torrents rushing back into the vents, carrying huge amounts of mud, sand, and rock that are shot skyward again and again,” NPS said. “Water coats everything with a glistening layer of silica.”
It's so hard to put into words how infectious the enthusiasm of a Steamboat Geyser eruption is. Laughing, crying, hugging, and cheering were almost non-stop during today's 1 hour and 15 minute eruption. Were you there? Share your photos, videos, and stories! pic.twitter.com/xSQmal8bsF
— YellowstoneNPS (@YellowstoneNPS) September 17, 2018
Yellowstone National Park is home to hundreds of geysers, with more located there than anywhere else on Earth.
In September last year, the YVO announced there were changes taking place at the thermal features of the Upper Geyser Basin. Scientists announced that Ear Spring, a normally quiet hot pool, had produced a water eruption reaching up to 30 foot in height. The last time Ear Spring had experienced such a large eruption was 1957.
Picturesque Yellowstone Lake is a bulge that rises 100 feet from the lake floor, stretches the length of seven football fields.
The 2017 Maple Creek swarm was a larger-than-average example, and therefore garnered significant public and scientific interest, earthquake swarms such as this likely reflect ongoing low-level tectonic and volcanic processes in Yellowstone.
“Changes in Yellowstone’s hydrothermal features are common occurrences and do not reflect changes in activity of the Yellowstone volcano,” a statement from the YVO said. “Shifts in hydrothermal systems occur only [in] the upper few hundred feet of the Earth’s crust and are not directly related to movement of magma several kilometers deep. There are no signs of impending volcanic activity.”